The filmmaker hopes Malayalam short film ‘Mareechika’ encourages viewers to let women make their own choices
Even as Jude Anthany Joseph’s Sara’s’ makes waves as it tackles the subject of pregnancy, choices and a woman’s body, techie and author-turned film director Indu VR’s short film Mareechika (Mirage) deals with an equally complex theme.
This short film focusses on different aspects of motherhood, societal pressure on young women to choose motherhood over everything else, how women are affected by it and the bond between a mother and her child.
When Indu decided to make her second short film, she focused on a subject close to her heart. “I have been subjected to it for 11 months after my marriage. During that relatively short duration, I had to answer questions on why I was not pregnant, got unsought advice on whether we should be consulting specialists and so on. I have not forgotten it even after years.”
Indu says she had also seen many women who had to bear the brunt of probing questions from inquisitive relatives, friends and acquaintances.
A self-taught filmmaker, Indu had made her mark with her first film Utharakadalasu, which dealt with suicide and went on win awards at various film festivals.
Mareechika is a sensitively-made 17-minute film that unfolds different aspects of maternal love without melodrama. Four main characters depict the theme. “There are three aspects I have featured; adoption, societal pressure on women to have a child, its repercussions and how a woman copes with the loss of a child,” explains Indu.
Shot during the lockdown in September 2020, Mareechika, filmed in Indu’s house, has a simple narrative that has a surprise at the end. Indu concludes her film with a punch that is bound to play on the minds of viewers.
Fleshing out the characters
As the lead character is a psychiatrist, Indu spent time with a practitioner to understand the challenges of the job and the kinds of problems they had to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Indu says that her “internship” proved to be of immense help in fleshing out the characters and their portrayal on screen.
As Devika, a disturbed young woman struggling with infertility problems, Smitha Ambu depicts her delusions and coping mechanism without becoming maudlin. “As I had seen patients like this, it was easy to communicate what I wanted from the actor. I was confident about the character,” explains Indu.
As psychiatrist Dr Vasundhara Devi, poet-actor Meera Nair is a picture of composure and empathy. Techie Kanakan Nair, producer and Indu’s husband, appears as Devika’s husband. Indu’s daughter Nandana also has a role in the film.
The success of Mareechika lies in its relatable characters and empathetic narrative. Filmed by Sibin Chandran, the location sound has been done by State award-winner Sandeep Kurissery. Music by Mikku Kaavil and editing by Sandeep Fradian have helped Indu in her narrative.
Nevertheless, it was not all easy going for Indu. One of her crew members acted difficult with his mansplaining. Among many successful film directors in Technopark, Indu happens to be the only woman. One of the women directors chosen for a workshop conducted by Kerala State Film Development Corporation to mould women filmmakers, Indu hopes to direct her maiden feature film soon.